Being a homeowner is a learning experience. Once you’re living in your very own house, you’ll probably get to wear all kinds of hats: handyman, gardener, interior designer, janitor, and more. And because you’ve got so many roles to fill, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few handy hacks along the way.
So in case you’re curious, here are eight of the most common things every homeowner should know how to do:
1. Unclog a Toilet—Unglamorous, I know, but this skill could save your life one day. First make sure your plunger is a toilet plunger with a high dome and a flange attached to the end. Fit your plunger into the drain and thrust downward with the handle so the rubber cap is inverted. When released, your plunger will create a vacuum that will unclog the drain. Repeat this motion as many times as you need to.
2. Wrap Exposed Water Pipes—Did you know that every time your pipes pump hot water, you’re losing heat? It may not sound like a huge deal, but the more heat you lose, the harder your house has to work to deliver hot water to your sink or shower. And that costs money. So do yourself a favor and wrap your hot water pipes with insulation. Here’s a great tutorial to show you how.
3. Turn off the Main Water Line—This is a good thing to learn how to do before your house is flooding or before you go on an extended vacation. The location of your water line depends on the layout of your house, but the main valve is usually on the outside wall near the front of your house. Find yours and practice turning it on and off so you’ll know how when you need to.
4. Unstick a Window—Is there anything worse than a stuffy room with a window that won’t open? But all is not lost. Just use a hammer and chisel to break apart the seams gently in case they’re stuck together with paint. Next spray some silicone lubricant on the top and edges and slide that window open.
5. Stop a Running Toilet—If the water in your toilet is running and running, that’s wasting money and water. Plus it’s completely irritating. This problem is almost always caused by a malfunctioning flap in your toilet’s tank. Here’s a tutorial to help you out.
6. Reset a Breaker—If you’re experiencing power outage issues, this is definitely a skill you’ll need. The main electrical box to your house is probably on the wall of your garage or basement. Once you’ve opened it, you can reset circuit breakers by flipping the switches and then flipping them back to their original position. This metal box is also the place where you can replace a fuse.
7. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature—And why would you want to do that? Because this is yet another money-saving trick that you’ll barely notice around the house. By simply lowering your temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll be saving money on your energy bill and saving yourself from getting scalded around the house. Here’s a little video to show you how.
8. Silence a Squeaky Door—This one definitely drives us all crazy. But before you reach for your messy lubricant and spray it all over your hinges (and your door), check out this handy tutorial. It’ll show you how to fix shrieking hinges with a little petroleum jelly. Nice trick.